Oklahoma State football turns the page on 2022 with the start of fall camp

Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy didn’t want to waste anybody’s time early Wednesday morning. Stillwater’s weather was already scorching by then, less than three hours after sunrise. He and the group of reporters in front of him were glistening with beads of sweat.

“We ready? Close to it?” he asked. “Let’s get right to it, questions. ” Before making his way over the southwest corner of the Sherman E.

Smith Training Center, he had just issued remarks that effectively put a bow on the Cowboys’ first practice of fall camp. Year 19 of the Gundy era was officially underway. So it only made sense the first question he fielded was about the enthralling eight months prior to that moment.

The Cowboys’ transfer-filled offseason, both coming and going, could’ve left Gundy either eager or unsure. It was apparent one of those currently stands out more than the other. But that makes sense for a man who, countless times this offseason, said he wouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens in college football from here on out.

That seemingly includes his team, too. “There’s more excitement than uncertainty,” he said. “Today I was much better with knowing – I only had to ask twice who somebody was.

That was a good day for me. … The excitement is greater than the uncertainty. ” Eight minutes later, the inevitable was asked.

During Big 12 Media Days in mid-July, Gundy said he and his staff weren’t planning on naming a starting quarterback until about halfway through camp. If it wasn’t clear by then, he said, they’d let the competition – featuring Michigan transfer Alan Bowman and a pair of homegrown products in Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy – play out until the beginning of the season. That seems to still be the case.

“Whether we like it or not, we live in the age of the portal. And in this time, we need to make sure as coaches, more so than ever, we give everybody quality time to work it out,” Gundy said. “When we name a depth chart, I wanna be able to look ’em all in the eyes and say everybody had a fair shot.

” There are benefits to naming a starter sooner than later. There are disadvantages to it as well, such as losing a non-starter to the transfer portal, and Gundy seems well aware of that. Throughout the first 10-to-12 practices, Gundy said, he wants the staff to make sure Bowman, Rangel and his middle son all take turns with the ones, twos and threes.

He wants concepts minimized, too, something that would allow a fair, accurate assessment of the trio. That was the case on Day 1. But there’s no denying Bowman’s experience stands out.

That’s an advantage the 24-year-old has over Rangel, a redshirt freshman, and Gundy, a redshirt sophomore. “He’s talented. You can tell he works hard,” Cowboys running back Jaden Nixon said of Bowman.

“He knows he’s gonna make mistakes, but when he makes mistakes, he’s gonna go correct ’em. … We could have the greatest play ever, but he’s still gonna find a way to make it better. ” Fall camp isn’t only for positions battles.

This year, as it similarly was ahead of the 2022 campaign, is for learning a new defense. Then, it was from longtime Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason. Now, it’s from Bryan Nardo, a marketed mastermind of the 3-3-5 who was most recently at Division II’s Gannon University.

And OSU safety Kendal Daniels is expected to be one of the stars of the show. “At first it was kind of like, ‘What are we gonna do?” said Daniels, the reigning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. “But I actually got to sit down with Coach Nardo and go over the defense, and we just figured out how we’re gonna do it, and I’ve loved it ever since.

” Daniels wasn’t standing in these shoes a year ago. He was a redshirt freshman trying to see the field, and he did as the season dragged on. In the beginning, it was due to OSU’s injury-riddled secondary.

Toward the end, it was because Gundy and Co. couldn’t afford to not have him out there. He went through a lot this offseason, from rehabbing a torn ligament in his ankle – that didn’t need surgery – to a trip to Tampa, Florida, for workouts with people who help out with the NFL Combine.

Now, he’s returned to Stillwater with a heavier workload and higher expectations. That isn’t changing who he is, though. “It don’t feel no different than how it felt last year.

I don’t come in here and be like, ‘Dang, I’m just gonna play this year,’” Daniels said. “I’m coming in here the same way I was last year, just trying to get ready for the season, try to learn the plays, and go out there and win games. ” Wednesday served as a turning of the page for the Cowboys, who were 6-1 to start 2022 before finishing at 7-6.

Last season’s problems are in the past. The players who left, the stockpile of injuries, all now officially a part of yesterday. Gundy was – and has been – set on that.

Daniels seemingly was, too. Nixon certainly is. “Last year was last year,” Nixon said.

“We wanna change it up. We wanna work hard. We wanna go get it this year.

We need a title, so. ” .

Jon Walker
·
Filed 08.04.2023

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